Sunday – the latest book by Craig Harline

May 8, 2007 | 102 comments
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I’ll start this book review with two anecdotes of my own, from a Mormon ward in Belgium.

Last Sunday, in church, the bishop’s sister told us that her little boys were so excited because they were looking forward to the swimming party in the afternoon. The bishop’s own family and the families of his siblings were going to enjoy a pleasurable family Sunday afternoon: togetherness, games, swimming, fun and food, and it would probably last until late in the evening.

A few Sundays before, at the end of the meeting block, as I still had something else to attend to, my wife asked brother and sister M. if she could get a ride home with them. The M’s live in our neighborhood, about six miles from the chapel.
- Of course, they said. We just need to make a little detour.
The detour turned out to be a ten mile extra trip, to a specific baker, where the M’s got their Sunday pastries.
- We’ve been going to this one for twenty years. For us, he is the best.
Belgian bakers, indeed, whose refined, fragrant shops can be found in every neighborhood, each have their reputation. Sunday is their peak day, when from 7 AM on customers form lines in the street. For nothing equals the freshly baked delicacies to enjoy on Sunday, when a typical Belgian family gathers around a festive table at home.
- We’ve got children and grandchildren coming over this afternoon, added brother M., to explain the quantity bought.

***

One must read Harline’s Sunday: A history of the first day from Babylonia to the Super Bowl (Doubleday, 2007, 450 pages) to understand the fascinating historical and cultural elements that have shaped the concept of Sunday observance in various countries. Dr. Harline is professor of history at BYU, and already the author of four remarkable books on aspects of Catholic history in the age of the Reformation, with special attention to Flanders and the Netherlands. Sunday has a much broader chronological and geographical scope: it is the history of the concept of this special day in the Western world, from its origins in Babylonian and Jewish traditions, up to Super Bowl Sunday. Three thousand years of Sundays.

Harline warns the reader from the onset: it is impossible to describe all aspects, moments, places, and perspectives dealing with Sunday in a single book. A limited focus implies selection. Harline had to make severe and sometimes arbitrary choices. He therefore concentrates on Western Europe and the United States, and on representative moments in time. Still, for the non-specialist the 450 pages form a coherent overview of major developments, in clearly delineated chapters.

Chapter 1 is a little more theoretical than other chapters, as it explains how pagan and Jewish traditions evolved into a Roman-Christian Sun-day. Noteworthy is that to early Christians Sunday, or the Lord’s Day as they called it, had nothing to do with the Jewish Sabbath, and did not follow any Sabbath rhythms except for a moment of “worship”. Most of Sunday was a normal working day. Only after 500 did Sunday begin to acquire Sabbath-like characteristics, such as “rest”. And only in the seventh century were typical Sabbath restrictions for the first time linked to Sunday. Harline thus raises the ancient question of: what is the precise relationship of the Jewish Sabbath to the Christian Sunday? To believers at present, centuries removed from those old developments, the relationship seems clear—but it wasn’t so until after 600. Previously, Sunday was meant to have a different character from the restrictive Sabbath in Jewish traditions.

The rest of the book reads like a novel, replete with concrete examples of people’s experiences and myriads of anecdotes, carefully vested in thorough research. The reading is made particularly pleasant by a semi-literary, conversational style, with all the bibliographical notes ordered per subchapter at the end of the book.

Chapter 2 deals with the Middle Ages, set in England around 1300. By now the rules of the Christian Sunday were clear: it was to be a full day free of work, with worship and rest. The question was: did “resting” simply mean no work, or did it also include play? Almost all Christians showed by their actions that Sunday rest in fact included, after services, a lot of recreation.

Chapter 3 takes us to the Dutch Republic in 1624, where Harline describes daily life and Sunday observance from the journal of Reformed schoolteacher David Beck. Same pattern: we learn that, overall, Sunday had developed into a day free of labor, but still open to a lot of amusement, once the church service was over. Less so in England, where the Puritans were pushing their vision of a strict Sunday, with long church meetings, without any other activity, except those related to religion. More than any other group, the Puritans authored the tradition that play on Sunday was wrong; “rest” meant soberly pondering one’s salvation and engaging in charitable activities, not laughter or traditional “fun”.

France in the 19th century, the topic of Chapter 4, introduces us to the pleasure-seeking “Continental Sunday” of the French bourgeoisie, with its promenades, concerts, and eating out, but also to the horrible Sundays of the working class, victims of industrialization. Chapter 5 is devoted to Belgium in the early 20th century (my little country dominated by Catholicism), where Sundays are a “rural idyll”: after morning Mass, the day is committed to joyful, familial and social recreation as it has continued since. But Harline contrasts it also with the somber Sundays of the First World War, when so many died in Flanders Fields.

The next chapter brings us to England, between the two world wars. Although things were slowly changing, the English Sunday remained basically the strict, dull, sleepy “day of negatives and emptiness”, which the Puritan tradition had established and had exported, a few centuries before, to America with the Pilgrims.

The final, and most extensive chapter, deals with the United States since the 1950s: the American cultural variety is also reflected in the many ways Sunday is experienced and how the duality of the holy day / holiday evolved – up to an almost sacralized Super Bowl Sunday. As Harline points out, “holy day” and “holiday” in medieval English meant exactly the same thing, unlike the juxtaposed meaning they are typically given today. And he believes there is something to be learned from that single meaning—one cannot do without the other.

Since the early Middle Ages, throughout the centuries, one religious constant: from the side of Church leaders (and sometimes the government) the endless debates, laws and regulations, about what is allowed and not allowed on Sunday, from the most restrictive, paranoid rules, to more leniency, reasonableness, and humanity. A classic dispute is about the meaning of “rest” as elaborated by the Puritans: allowing recreation or not? But, if recreation is allowed, there is then the problem of those who need to work to provide recreation. Harline follows many of these contesting threads, showing the interaction between the various cultural factors that shape Sunday observances.

Mormonism’s stance on Sunday is only treated briefly: we are very much part of the Puritan tradition, which prevailed in New England at the time of Joseph Smith.

All in all, a fascinating book, which I read from various personal backgrounds: as a former Catholic altar boy in Belgium, as a Mormon convert in the 1960s in the realm of our Primitive Church, as a member of a strong American ward in Provo (including the experience of dinner with ward members during Super Bowl Sunday), and now as a Sunday school teacher, temporarily back in a Belgian ward anno 2007.

***

The book made me ponder the influence of culture into the conceptualization of today’s Mormon Sunday observance, both in Utah and within our internationally expanding church. Based on the clear admonitions from church leaders, in Mormonism a strict Puritan-like-tradition prevails. But, as my two introductory anecdotes show, things are not always simple. Indeed, the two cases I mentioned involve non-Mormon family members in a divergent cultural setting compared to Utah. The search for compatibility between our religious requirements and family-obligations may lead to compromises, with or without feelings of uneasiness and guilt.

There is more to contemplate when we consider non-American cultural elements in their relation to Mormonism. E.g., in some countries the concept of Family home evening on Monday evening may not square well with school and work obligations and schedules. Sunday afternoon is often the best time for family togetherness, including fun and games and outings – as most converts already knew it before joining the Church. Part of the “good things” allowed to keep or not? Harline makes it clear that the elimination of many “good things” occurred at a specific historical moment and time—namely the Puritans in sixteenth-century England and seventeenth-century America. But most other Christians kept the longstanding practice of including recreation on Sunday.

Next, to what extent can the broader social context be taken into account? In Utah County there is nothing happening on Sunday outside church. In a country like Belgium, that time is filled with intense social life: scouting, exhibitions, festivals, sports, concerts, open door visits to museums and monuments, free guided tours, historical evocations, humanitarian projects. At the same time, strict laws, guarded by the unions, limit Sunday commerce to the minimum, while for those who work on Sunday a “rest-day” during the week is obligatory.

Should Mormons in the international Church abstain from any aspect of Sunday cultural and social life in their country, thus also segregating themselves, isolating their children, and diminishing the opportunities for missionary work because of less involvement in the broader society? The struggles to come to such adaptations and decisions, the arguments pro and contra, are found within Christian churches since the 4th century, as Harline demonstrates extensively.

I warmly recommend reading Harline’s book to better understand the cultural roots of the Sunday choices made over time, and to discover a large number of captivating individuals in their experiences with the first day of the week – dreading it, just undergoing it, or loving it.

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102 Responses to Sunday – the latest book by Craig Harline

  1. Wilfried on May 8, 2007 at 8:01 am

    I’ve invited Dr. Harline to follow the thread. He agreed to comment on remarks where useful from his expertise and to answer questions.

  2. Edje on May 8, 2007 at 8:37 am

    The book looks interesting. Thanks for the review.

  3. Norbert on May 8, 2007 at 9:00 am

    What great questions. I’ll give another example, if I might.

    On Palm Sunday in Finland, children dress as witches and go door-to-door of their neighbors and friends, exchanging decorated willow branches and songs for candy or money. I can imagine some members refusing to be involved in such an activity as church members, not answering the door and/or not sending their own kids out. However, I don’t know of any Finnish members who take such a position. Some Mormon kids miss Primary on Palm Sunday so they can go home and get dressed up. Even though I grew up in a Mormon environment where kids didn’t trick or treat on a Sunday, I can’t imagine explaining to our neighbors, with whose children our children play, that our religion forbids us from giving them candy on a Sunday, or giving them the chance to reciprocate.

    We have made a conscious choice not to become insulated into a little Mormon world, and flexibility will be needed to make that happen.

  4. Maria on May 8, 2007 at 9:08 am

    Sounds like a fascinating book. I’ll have to pick up a copy.

    I’ve always looked at Sunday as the one day of the week solely focused on God/others rather than myself. For me, this is a good way to (periodically) overcome my selfishness.

    I’m fairly liberal in allowing myself to do a lot of things many LDS wouldn’t do on Sundays–so long as the ultimate aim is to help another person. Approaching the Sabbath this way, at least for me, emphasizes the spirit, rather than the letter, of the law.

  5. Adam Greenwood on May 8, 2007 at 9:11 am

    Thanks for this review. In our family we’ve found great spiritual benefit from treating Sunday as a Sabbath, even though it has sometimes required us to appear a peculiar people to our neighbors and friends.

  6. Adam Greenwood on May 8, 2007 at 9:15 am

    Wilfried D.,

    A question: does the book take an explicit or implied position on what would constitute a proper Sunday (holy day=holiday, or Sunday=Sabbath)? What was the basis for the selection of various Sunday traditions?

  7. Wilfried on May 8, 2007 at 9:22 am

    As to the first question, Adam, I think the book speaks for itself when one reads the “testimonies” of people through the ages. The positions differ according to who speaks, but one cannot deny that, in the book, the joy of the holiday prevails way over the somberness of Puritan traditions when these are imposed on people who count the minutes to get through Sunday. Famous examples of the latter, also in literature. Dr. Harline can tell us more about that, and of course he is the person to answer the second question. He’ll join us later in the thread.

  8. Russell Arben Fox on May 8, 2007 at 9:27 am

    Thanks for this review, Wilfried; it’ll be interesting to see the thread develop.

    One thing that has struck me over the years as Melissa and I have tried negotiate a common understanding for our family of what is and isn’t appropriate on Sunday is the major influence that simple decisions can have. For example, Melissa was raised to believe that girls should remain in dresses all Sunday. (They don’t have to be Sunday best, but neither can they be just ordinary play clothes.) Simply being in a dress means many outdoor activities–swimming, to name an obvious one–won’t be allowed, even if we’ve never really identified that or another specific outdoor activity as problematic for some particular reason. The same thing can be said for my desire to never spend money on Sunday: it means, among other things, that long drives which might involve stopping over at a gas station won’t be taken, or indeed we’ll just have to end up avoiding travel on that day entirely. (We both have made exceptions to these practices plenty of times. Still, it’s interesting to see how they have flowed from simple, fairly specific, sometimes unrelated decisions. The same, I suspect, can be said for a great many of our Sunday folk practices, or lack thereof.)

  9. Wilfried on May 8, 2007 at 9:31 am

    Norbert (3), thank you for that contribution from Finland. Interesting and telling. We would welcome more examples from around the world to better understand the relation of Mormonism with the host culture as it pertains to Sunday observances.

  10. Craig Harline on May 8, 2007 at 9:32 am

    Wilfried is right: I don’t try to prescribe a proper Sunday, but try to show how a host of people have answered that question. Perhaps my own sympathies and biases come through here and there, as my friends have told me, and that’s normal in a book, but it is more a work of history than of theology–it focuses on observance more than rules and debates. As for how I selected the particular Sundays, I preferred those areas I knew best–which meant western Europe and the US. But I also read widely enough to know that the broad themes present in these areas were present elsewhere too, and that the essential dividing line in Sunday observance wasn’t between Protestant and Catholic, or this country vs. that country, but England/Scotland (and their American colonies for awhile) vs. just about everyone else. And I go back and forth between that English tradition and the everyone-else (highlighted by France) tradition.

  11. Kevin Barney on May 8, 2007 at 10:47 am

    I’m very liberal and open in my Sunday practices. I think I would make a good Belgian. (g)

  12. Craig Harline on May 8, 2007 at 11:07 am

    One of the things I was trying to do in the book was to avoid the connotation that a more active Sunday equaled a more “liberal” or “secular” Sunday, and that stricter observance of Sunday was somehow inherently more religious. I tried to show how people might regard an active Sunday as also having a religious foundation. It depends heavily on what you mean by religious, of course, but this was one of the things I learned most about while researching this book. A Belgian Sunday is a lovely thing actually, which I don’t think of as liberal or conservative; in fact many of the activities aren’t that different from quiet Mormon Sundays in the US but there’s no second-guessing and no sense of guilt because it’s evident to them that the activities are rejuvenating and worthwhile–and I dare say involve even more time spent with family than American Sundays.

  13. KLC on May 8, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Monday family home evenings don’t work for many Americans as well. With sports, music lessons, and homework demands we have decided to hold FHE on Sunday afternoon or evening. It has worked out perfectly for us and for several other families in our ward.

  14. Amira on May 8, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Kyrgyzstan knows how to do Sunday even though it’s a Muslim country. Bishkek is noticeably quieter and people spend most of the day with extended family and friends, in the mountains if possible. So we spent a lot of time visiting friends that day and having friends over to our house. I have never been as socially active on Sundays as I was in Kyrgyzstan. It was easy for us to balance though, since we had church at home. It would have been more difficult to manage if we’d had church all afternoon like we often do in the US.

  15. Adam Greenwood on May 8, 2007 at 11:48 am

    “One of the things I was trying to do in the book was to avoid the connotation that a more active Sunday equaled a more “liberal” or “secular” Sunday, and that stricter observance of Sunday was somehow inherently more religious.”

    This is hardly a neutral position, since folks who live a stricter Sunday do think its more religious.

  16. Craig Harline on May 8, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    I don’t entirely get the point about neutrality, but my point was that religiously minded people who engaged in a more active Sunday did not necessarily think of themselves as any less religious than those who observed a strict Sunday. In fact they regarded themselves as equally religious, but they defined religiosity differently. And yes there were some, such as Pope Gregory the Great and others, who regarded it as LESS religious to follow strict Sunday rules. So: certainly there were those who observed a strict Sunday who thought of themselves as more religious, but there were some who observed a “freer” Sunday who thought IT more religious, and there were those in either camp who thought of themselves as simply being religious. I don’t know whether that addresses your point or not. I was trying to show the different approaches. I mostly wanted to say that a strictly observed Sunday was not inherent in Christianity. The measure of whether to engage in an activity on Sunday or not was for centuries this: was the activity itself good or useful, rather than good or useful on Sunday? Every day should be holy to a Christian, and if something was wrong one day, it was wrong on others. After about 500, this view began to change and Sunday took on increasingly special status–but it was challenged again by such Reformers as Luther, who was against strict Sunday observance.

  17. John Mansfield on May 8, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    “Sun. 15 [August 1915]. By noon we were to Lincoln Park. . . . We got in line of hundreds waiting for the free suits to go in bathing. Fully 5,000 people were in the lake, so thick one could harldy move. . . . We came on to the Zoo. . . . The two Ladies, Elder Ritchie and I went to church on Sawyer Ave. and met the Saints of that Branch. . .”

    From Spencer Kimball’s journal.
    “The Mission Experience of Spencer W. Kimball”, BYU Studies v. 25, no. 4, p. 127

  18. Frank McIntyre on May 8, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    “I mostly wanted to say that a strictly observed Sunday was not inherent in Christianity.”

    I assume you are talking about historical Christianity as practiced after the apostasy. But is a strictly observed Sabbath inherent in Restored Christianity? I think the D&C says so. You’ve told us why you love the Belgian approach. But suppose one starts from the thesis that what Mormons have as Sabbath day counsel is, in fact, what God wants us to have. How would you characterize that counsel and what possible reasons might there be for that counsel? Surely you’ve thought through that side as well.

    And, by the way, judging from the anti-materialism strain of political liberalism, I think strict observance of the “no-commerce” rule would be right in line with the political left, even if it ends up being the religious right. So it goes.

    John,

    SWK perhaps had a slightly different view 60 years later after he grew up and became the prophet.

    “We have become largely a world of Sabbath breakers. On the Sabbath the lakes are full of boats, the beaches are crowded, the shows have their best attendance, the golf links are dotted with players. The Sabbath is the preferred day for rodeos, conventions, family picnics; even ball games are played on the sacred day. “Business as usual” is the slogan for many, and our holy day has become a holiday. And because so many people treat the day as a holiday, numerous others cater to the wants of the fun-lovers and money-makers. …

    To hunt and fish on the Lord’s day is not keeping it holy. To plant or cultivate or harvest crops on the Sabbath is not keeping holy the Lord’s day. To go into the canyons for picnics, to attend games or rodeos or races or shows or other amusements on that day is not to keep it in holy remembrance.”

    Much more is available from his Teachings of the Prophet book here

  19. Frank McIntyre on May 8, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    By the way, I am not saying that SWK was issuing blanket injunctions against swimming per se.

    He was obviously saying that we needed to worship more and play less. I suppose some people feel they do their best worshiping on their boat. Undoubtedly this is true for someone. Undoubtedly it ain’t for lots of people :).

  20. Russell Arben Fox on May 8, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    Craig,

    “…but it was challenged again by such Reformers as Luther, who was against strict Sunday observance.”

    Really? I was under the impression that Luther, while certainly not as committed to public piety as some of the Anabaptists who came after him, was much more a “Sabbath” Sunday person than those Catholics he aligned the Reformation against–hence the fact that stores remained closed on Sundays well into the late twentieth century in mostly Protestant northern Germany, while they were open next door in mostly Catholic Belgium. But perhaps my understanding here is flawed.

    Frank,

    “I think strict observance of the ‘no-commerce’ rule would be right in line with the political left, even if it ends up being the religious right.”

    You noticed! That’s great news. Consider this your first step into a Christian socialist understanding of the world.

  21. Russell Arben Fox on May 8, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Also, regarding President Kimball and Sunday activities, I’ve had a post in mind for a while on something that’s become rather clear to me in reading and teaching his lessons out of the manual this year: the man was–unlike, I think, the majority of general authorities since his time–a (small-p) puritan, in a very real and pious sense. I need to get it written up.

  22. Dan Y. on May 8, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    This is hardly a neutral position, since folks who live a stricter Sunday do think its more religious.

    Folks who live a celibate lifestyle also think celibacy is more religious. Can we infer that a view suggesting the personal life of a LDS prophet is not necessarily less religious that the personal life of a pope is a biased view?

  23. DavidH on May 8, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Perhaps the section 59 instructions on the Lord’s Day (and President Kimball’s views) are timebound in the same way that the word of wisdom is. It has been a long time since I have heard anyone in the Church claim that drinking alcohol was wrong in the time of the Savior. Dr. Harline’s research seems to show that the more puritan observance of the Lord’s day does not appear to have existed even in the “pre-apostasy” Christianity.

    By the way, Dr. Harline, I really enjoyed A Bishop’s Tale.

  24. Russell Arben Fox on May 8, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    “Anabaptists didn’t believe at all in a Sabbath-like Sunday, as the Sabbath was for Jews only, and they went back to work around Sunday services.”

    True, but neither were the Anabaptists for the most part of the larger economy of the surrounding society; when one’s whole community is “consecrated” in effect, then going back to work isn’t distinct from going to church. At least, this is the sense I have gotten from the Mennonites and Hutterites my family has known and worked with. So the whole matter of “public piety” as Anabaptists conceive it really isn’t comparable to the issues folks like Luther were working with, I suppose.

    “Store-openings come and go, there isn’t one trend in one direction.”

    That’s very interesting. Do you mean this solely in regard to the Catholic/Protestant (or, as you describe it, Continental/Anglo-American) split, or is it true more broadly? Do issues of commerce and arguments about Sunday observances have no predictable correlations, so far as you’ve been able to discern? Historically speaking, have there been situations where you have a very strict Sabbath-like understanding of Sunday appropriateness, but no restrictions on doing business? Or vice versa–a strong condemnation of earning and spending money on Sunday, but no real strictness on matters of play or leisure? I’d be particularly fascinated to learn if the latter has ever been the case.

    (Incidentally, Craig, many thanks for sticking around to participate on the thread; it makes these sorts of discussions that much more productive.)

  25. Adam Greenwood on May 8, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    “My point was that religiously minded people who engaged in a more active Sunday did not necessarily think of themselves as any less religious than those who observed a strict Sunday”

    I misunderstood you. I thought you said that one of your purposes with the book was to persuade people that a Holy day/Holiday was not less religious than a Sabbath Sunday.

    P.S. Don’t you think the terms “active Sunday” and “strict Sunday” are a little loaded?

  26. Adam Greenwood on May 8, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    “The D&C mentions it twice, and one of those in passing. Section 59 refers to Sunday as the Lord’s Day, as ancient Christians did, and it prescribes worship, preparing food simply (however one understands that), not laboring, and doing nothing else. This is the sum of the scriptural foundation, which is very basic and not very explicit. One could take “do nothing else” as not reading any inspirational books, or not walking with family, and so on. ”

    One would have to ignore a great deal of general authority commentary, attributing it, I suppose, to false cultural traditions.

  27. Adam Greenwood on May 8, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    “I’ve had a post in mind for a while on something that’s become rather clear to me in reading and teaching his lessons out of the manual this year: the man was–unlike, I think, the majority of general authorities since his time–a (small-p) puritan, in a very real and pious sense. I need to get it written up. “

    I’d love to see that post. Maybe that’s why I find the man so congenial.

  28. Adam Greenwood on May 8, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    Luther denounced more than once the trend which he saw, especially in Catholicism, to “Judaize” Sunday.

    Interesting. I’ve often thought that Mormonism benefited from its Puritan influence–in fact, that its Puritan influence may have been intended in some sense–precisely because of this Judaizing trend among Puritans that Mormons picked up on and further developed.

    P.S. I also enjoyed the Bishop’s Tale very much. I regretted not being able to take a class from you while I was at the Y–you were gone, some, and it just didn’t work out–but I’m very glad for your active participation in this comment thread.

  29. Craig Harline on May 8, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    I had ancient Christianity in mind in the first four centuries, which includes the time of the original church until whenever you think it declined. The stricter Sunday, making Sunday more into a Sabbath, was the product of historical Christianity after about 500, and culminated with the Puritans in the 16th century. I don’t go into this in great detail in the book, but it could be an entirely different book for a Mormon audience, I’m sure, was my point that Joseph Smith was born into a world (shaped heavily by Puritanism) which assumed that Sunday was the Sabbath. He had no reason to think any differently. But this was not the case in the ancient world. The Sabbath was the Jewish celebration on the Roman Saturday, while Sunday was called The Lord’s Day by Christians (they didn’t like the label “Sunday” because it was pagan. Romance languages, which succeeded the Latin around the western Mediterranean, all reflect this: Saturday is a derivative of Sabbath, Sunday is a derivative of the Lord’s Day). The Sabbath commandment was not linked to Sunday until almost 600 AD. I think it would be interesting to study further how much of the Mormon Sunday comes through especially the Puritan tradition. No scripture mentions “Sunday.” The Book of Mormon mentions the Sabbath once. The D&C mentions it twice, and one of those in passing. Section 59 refers to Sunday as the Lord’s Day, as ancient Christians did, and it prescribes worship, preparing food simply (however one understands that), not laboring, and doing nothing else. This is the sum of the scriptural foundation, which is very basic and not very explicit. One could take “do nothing else” as not reading any inspirational books, or not walking with family, and so on; there just isn’t a lot of specific instruction there, which I don’t find bad, and which again might suggest that much of the understanding of Sunday comes from traditions already in place by 1830.

  30. Frank McIntyre on May 8, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    “had ancient Christianity in mind in the first four centuries, which includes the time of the original church until whenever the apostacy happened.”

    Suppose I think large portions of the Church were going apostate in important ways by the second half of the first century (when Paul and Peter were writing letters to try and stem the tide) . So then pretty much the historical evidence you have from the pre-Catholic era would all be potentially suspect? Or not?

    “One could take “do nothing else” as not reading any inspirational books, or not walking with family, and so on; there just isn’t a lot of specific instruction there, which I don’t find bad, and which again might suggest that much of the understanding of Sunday comes from traditions already in place by 1830.”

    D&C 68 is pretty clearly advocating restricting other activities in favor of the Lord’s Day. Thus there is a Sabbath feel going on that I think we should not ignore. How to interpret the particulars is a perfectly fair question. I wonder where we could get authoritative guidance on that… :)

  31. Craig Harline on May 8, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    Luther denounced more than once the trend which he saw, especially in Catholicism, to “Judaize” Sunday. Like a lot of other people during the Reformation, Luther was anti-semitic, and his point here was that Christians erred in making a list of rules for Sunday behavior; the Christian was free to engage as he pleased in good activities–not because it was Sunday, but because the activities were themselves worthwhile. He didn’t want people to not work because it was Sunday, but to rest; to not do something because it was Sunday, but because they didn’t think it worthwhile. This was in keeping with Paul’s point about Christians being no respecters of days. This didn’t necessarily translate into opening stores; religious people who want a freer Sunday didn’t necessarily want more commerce (Anabaptists didn’t believe at all in a Sabbath-like Sunday, as the Sabbath, in their mind, was for Jews only, and they went back to work around Sunday services). Store-openings come and go, there isn’t one trend in one direction. Catholic Belgium is mostly closed on Sunday still (though that’s changing) and Protestant parts of Germany are also closed. In fact two of the least-churchgoing modern countries, Denmark and Germany, have the least amount of Sunday commerce. What is open, however, are restaurants and cafes, as these fit into notions of acceptable recreation–but not usually stores.

  32. Craig Harline on May 8, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    In response to Russell’s questions: the Anabaptist total consecration was what some early Christians had in mind by saying that one did wasn’t more or less holy than others. One would take time to worship, but the day per se wasn’t any better, and worthy activities on one day were as valid as those on another day. I think you’re quite right in your sense of how they approached it. On store openings, I don’t know that I can answer all those: I’m not an expert on economics, and am not sure I have enough specifics to answer any one of those question–but one of the most interesting thoughts I read was by a sociologist who believed that a strong work ethic made it more likely that a country would allow Sunday opening. Precisely for the same reason that a country which finds its values in sports would allow Sunday sports: because work had a holiness all its own, whether understood secularly or religiously. So it’s not surprising that Americans have more Sunday-opening than other western countries: they also work more hours each week. Countries with a strong leisure culture have more relaxed Sundays.

  33. Craig Harline on May 8, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    In response to Adam’s questions: my purpose wasn’t necessarily to persuade people that a holiday sort of Sunday was just as religious. My point was that through my research I came to see how people who engaged in such Sundays might regard them that way. I didn’t come to the book with a preconceived notion of what Sunday had been or should be. I followed my research as carefully and honestly as I could, although no one does that perfectly. “Active” Sunday and “Strict” Sunday can certainly be loaded, but I was simply looking for some terms that might serve as distinguishing points. Maybe there are better terms; an “active” Sunday can be loaded with all kinds of religious acts, certainly. But I think the connotations are fair enough. As far as extra-canonical statements by General Authorities on Sunday, of course there have been many of those. And one may certainly take those as gospel truth. One may also regard them as based on cultural assumptions subject to change–just as Paul assumed the existence of slavery, which I don’t think is true at all, yet I still consider Paul to be an inspired person. So certainly this does take one into the broader question of how to interpret authoritative statements. I’m not convinced that a Puritan influence on Mormonism was intended; it’s possible, but I think it’s more in the realm of something that just happened–like many other influences upon early Mormons.

  34. Russell Arben Fox on May 8, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    “One of the most interesting thoughts I read was by a sociologist who believed that a strong work ethic made it more likely that a country would allow Sunday opening. Precisely for the same reason that a country which finds its values in sports would allow Sunday sports: because work had a holiness all its own, whether understood secularly or religiously. So it’s not surprising that Americans have more Sunday-opening than other western countries: they also work more hours each week. Countries with a strong leisure culture have more relaxed Sundays.”

    Makes sense. Of course, that suggests a possible problem with the longstanding interpretation of Calvinism as contributing to a strong work ethic, and of the Puritans as proto-capitalists: it was in England and the U.S. that the Puritan/Calvinist “work ethic” was supposedly strongest, and of course there is plenty of data to back up the idea that those parts of the world most readily embraced the capitalist worldview. And yet, your own research would suggest that it was the Puritan influence that kept people out of the marketplace on Sundays. So, did Puritanism grant us a bunch of desperate businessmen, torn between their desire to profit on Sundays and their conviction that to do so is wicked? Seems unlikely, or at the very least rather condescending. (But then, Max Weber’s work on the “Protestant ethic” has plenty of problems already.)

  35. Craig Harline on May 8, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    Regarding Frank’s question: I think it’s too easy to look at something we don’t get or agree with in ancient Christianity and simply attribute it to apostasy, just as it’s too easy to treat a tough passage of the Bible as the result of a scribe’s error or whatever. It’s possible that such is the case, but I think it’s more fruitful to be as honest as possible with the evidence and deal with it, even if it means reinterpreting our past ideas. Certainly the early centuries of Christianity are vague in many respects, including on the topic of Sunday. If one accepts that Sunday was related to the Sabbath, then certainly more attention might be paid to New Testament texts, including Paul’s statement that Christians should be no respecters of days, or Jesus’ own treatment of Sabbath restrictions–most importantly his view that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. In my research, it seemed to me that insistence on a strict Sunday often fit the view that man was made for the Sabbath–thus if the Sabbath wasn’t observed, man would be cursed. Looking at it the other way around suggests that observing the Sabbath can bring benefits, but failure to observe it means you miss out.

  36. Craig Harline on May 8, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Russell: Witold Rybczynski made his comment about the link between Sunday opening and the work ethic especially in relation to the modern world, and that wouldn’t necessarily include an explicitly Puritan link. But you’re right that it seems to be a contradiction. First, Puritans and Calvinists were not the same thing; Puritans were influenced by Calvinism, but they disagreed strongly with Reformed (Calvinist) views on many points. The Puritans did have a strong work ethic, and a strict Sunday, so they do not fit Rybczynski’s model. But other Calvinists were not as strict about Sunday work, and they too had a strong work ethic. European observers of the early American Sunday, which in New England was quite strict,commented into the 19th century that Americans were so strict about Sunday because they were so defiled during the week from pursuing wealth–and they needed a day to purify themselves. That’s in contrast to the ancient Christian, or early modern Anabaptist model, of finding harmony every day, or at least not making such a distinction between work life and religious life.

  37. Russell Arben Fox on May 8, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    “European observers of the early American Sunday, which in New England was quite strict, commented into the 19th century that Americans were so strict about Sunday because they were so defiled during the week from pursuing wealth–and they needed a day to purify themselves.”

    That’s a great thought, Craig. It sounds like something Tocqueville might have said, but I’m not remembering any particular quote along those lines. Were you thinking of some particular observer there, or are you aware of several folks who said similar things? (In any case, you could perhaps argue that little has changed….)

  38. Adam Greenwood on May 8, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    In my research, it seemed to me that insistence on a strict Sunday often fit the view that man was made for the Sabbath–thus if the Sabbath wasn’t observed, man would be cursed.

    I want to accept that you’re not doing advocacy and polemics, but then how am I to understand statements like these that suggest that in your view people like me who advocate of a “strict” sabbath are bucking Christ?

  39. Lupita on May 8, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Thanks for the review. Dr. Harline was one of my favorite professors at BYU–he consistently asked the most intriguing questions. I look forward to reading his book.

    As far as contrasting Utah county Sunday-observance with the international Church, one really doesn’t need to go across the pond to realize that there are lots of lovely Sunday cultural and social traditions within the U.S. (whether they involve pastry or not). I don’t think that segregation, isolation, and diminished participation in broader society necessarily correlates with abstinence from Sunday social and cultural activities.

  40. Craig Harline on May 8, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    Adam: I tried to be fair and honest in the book, but of course had biases and idiosyncracies going in, which I try to explain up front in the book. And I also came to conclusions based upon my research: hence because I tried to be fair and present different traditions of Sunday doesn’t mean I didn’t develop my own opinions, even if I do not use the book to develop them. I think it’s largely up to the individual to decide what feels right to them about Sunday, whether one calls that strict or relaxed. If you prefer a stricter Sunday than I do, or a more relaxed version, that’s up to you. I am simply stating that the impression I had from many who over the centuries promoted a strict Sunday was that they saw it as something to be fulfilled or else (thus man created for the Sabbath) rather than as something of which to take advantage. And I personally think it healthier to think of it as the latter. But I don’t presume to know whether any individual is acting on one impulse or the other, when they behave this way or that on Sunday; only the individual knows that.

  41. Frank McIntyre on May 8, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    “they saw it as something to be fulfilled or else (thus man created for the Sabbath) rather than as something of which to take advantage. And I personally think it healthier to think of it as the latter.”

    I think this is a temptation with a lot of commandments.

    “Regarding Frank’s question: I think it’s too easy to look at something we don’t get or agree with in ancient Christianity and simply attribute it to apostasy, just as it’s too easy to treat a tough passage of the Bible as the result of a scribe’s error or whatever.”

    I agree with this completely. But it strikes me as ironic that you say this when you are, perhaps, going down the same road with general authority statements. Perhaps many Mormons over-attribute Biblical statements they don’t like to scribal error or apostasy. You seem inclined to attribute general authority statements you find discomfiting to human traditions (the “Puritan apostasy” if you will). Or is that not a fair counter-criticism?

  42. manaen on May 8, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    Here’s a first: I could read a posting by Wilfried without experiencing extreme and recurring lachrymosity! (I still carry and share a copy of The Flute).

  43. Craig Harline on May 8, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    I think what I’m saying is that it’s probably not best to dismiss something simply because you disagree with it, nor to accept something because it seems self-evident. If I laid the emphasis on approaching difficult problems in ancient Christianity, it’s because that’s where I think the tendency happens more often. If I suggested that it’s possible that the most inspired human, including the apostle Paul, may in fact be human and thus culturally bound (and religion has to be culturally bound because it exists at a given place and time; I can’t think of any religion that exists in a vacuum, but even being culturally bound doesn’t necessarily make it wrong), I think it’s because perhaps we don’t consider that enough either. I think I’ll stop there with sharing possible theological approaches or biases, as I’m quite an amateur at it, but I’d be glad to field such questions as they relate to actual history.

  44. Mark B. on May 8, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    To bring in a reference that Ardis might appreciate, Lorenzo Brown’s (1823-1901) contains a whole lot of references to Sundays (as you might expect in a journal covering nearly 60 years of a man’s life) and in the process shatters some Primary myths.

    For example, pioneers didn’t just rest and read and pray on Sundays (just as they probably didn’t always sing as they walked).

    Some days fit the myth. Some didn’t:

    [June] 4 Sunday Do not travel today The platteis nearly as wide & about the color of the Missouri river . . .

    [June] 11 Sunday meeting at 9 AM

    [June] 18 Meeting in Pres. Youngs company. P.M. drove about 5 miles wet road Stopped near the Bluffs . . .

    [June] 25 Sunday drove 4 or 5 miles & stopped on Platt . . .

    [July] 16 Sunday. Remained in camp. . . . Here the companies were divided into fifties, for the purpose of being better prepared to find feed for our teams. Brighams was divided in four. We travel in his company yet. . .

    [July] 23 Sunday. Did not travel remained in Camp all day

    [July] 30 Drove to day 19 miles stopped about dark on A. La Prele river Feed scarce . . .

    [August] 2 and 3 Sat & Sun. Laid by to set wagon tire shoe cattle etc. etc. [Obviously there is some confusion about the dates, since the first Sunday in August would have been August 6.]

    [August] 20 Sun. Drove 16 miles without water or grass. . . .

    [September] 3 Sunday Cold with strong NW wind in the morning. Started contrary to our usual custom [!] on the Sabbath.

    [September] 10 Sunday 14 miles brought us to Fort Bridger . . .

    [September] 17 Drove about 5 miles . . .

    [September] 21 [Arrived in Salt Lake Valley]

    Besides not conforming to what we all learned in Primary, the most surprising thing in this set of journal entries is his line about “contrary to our custom” on September 3. It appears that at least half the Sundays included travel, and one was spent refitting the wagons and reshoeing the oxen.

    I don’t suggest that this should be read as normative–even though they were in the same company as Brigham Young. It suggests though that some of what we “teach” in order to instill norms of Sabbath behavior in our children is more ideal than real.

  45. Wilfried on May 8, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    I’ve been away a couple of hours and am delighted to see such an interesting discussion. Thanks to all, and especially to Craig to be so willingly involved. I read in quite a few of the comments the same concerns that Christians shared and discussed over the ages, as I learned from Craig’s book.

    I’ll repeat an item I noted early in the discussion: We would welcome more examples from around the world to better understand the relation of Mormonism with the host culture as it pertains to Sunday observances.

  46. Mark B. on May 8, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Somewhere up there I left out the word “Journal.”

  47. DavidH on May 8, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    If I may rephrase Frank’s as an historical inquiry:

    1. President Kimball (and subsequent presidents, although less repeatedly and forcefully) advocated a strict Sunday observance, which is consistent with section 59 (at least a strict interpretation of section 59).

    2. This means that it is, and always has been, God’s will for the observance of Sunday.

    3. It therefore must have been the practice of the early Christian church to observe Sunday in that way, at least until the apostasy.

    4. Dr. Harline has not found any evidence from that time period that the early Christian church ever taught this or observed Sunday in this way.

    5. Either (a) Dr. Harline’s research was inadequate, because it did not find evidence that the early Christians taught or observed Sunday in that way, or (b) the evidence of the teaching of such observance or its practice no longer exists, for whatever reason, but that does not mean that it did not occur (see items 1-3, above).

  48. DavidH on May 8, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    In case it is not clear, I do not think President Kimball’s teachings or section 59 regarding Sunday observance were the teachings or practice of the early Christian church.

  49. Frank McIntyre on May 8, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    David,

    Wow, that is really not at all what I was saying. Do you want another go at it? :)

    Craig,

    “I think I’ll stop there with sharing possible theological approaches or biases, as I’m quite an amateur at it,”

    Fair enough!

  50. Wilfried on May 8, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Thank you, DavidH, for your comment. Indeed, this kind of ironic logic would lead to obvious problems. Replace in (1) by items such as Word of Wisdom or Plural marriage, also sustained by D&C and strong statements by Church presidents, then these should lead to the same statements as in (2) and (3). Which would imply that Christ never used wine in the NT, and that Plural marriage was practised among the early apostles. And one could continue in various nuances with (4) and (5). Door wide open for vain discussions. I presume cultural and thus changing contexts for commandments will make some of us uncomfortable, but those contexts are difficult to deny. Which does not mean the commandments are invalid when viewed within their time and clearly stressed by the then living leaders.

  51. DavidH on May 8, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Frank,

    The following exchanges led me to think you were implicitly making the argument I summarized:

    Craig: “’I mostly wanted to say that a strictly observed Sunday was not inherent in Christianity.’

    Frank: “I assume you are talking about historical Christianity as practiced after the apostasy. But is a strictly observed Sabbath inherent in Restored Christianity? I think the D&C says so. You’ve told us why you love the Belgian approach. But suppose one starts from the thesis that what Mormons have as Sabbath day counsel is, in fact, what God wants us to have.”

    Craig: “I had ancient Christianity in mind in the first four centuries, which includes the time of the original church until whenever the apostacy happened.”

    Frank: “Suppose I think large portions of the Church were going apostate in important ways by the second half of the first century (when Paul and Peter were writing letters to try and stem the tide) . So then pretty much the historical evidence you have from the pre-Catholic era would all be potentially suspect? Or not?”

    Craig: “Regarding Frank’s question: I think it’s too easy to look at something we don’t get or agree with in ancient Christianity and simply attribute it to apostasy, just as it’s too easy to treat a tough passage of the Bible as the result of a scribe’s error or whatever.”

    Frank: “I agree with this completely. But it strikes me as ironic that you say this when you are, perhaps, going down the same road with general authority statements. Perhaps many Mormons over-attribute Biblical statements they don’t like to scribal error or apostasy. You seem inclined to attribute general authority statements you find discomfiting to human traditions (the ‘Puritan apostasy’ if you will). Or is that not a fair counter-criticism?”

  52. Jim F. on May 8, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    Logical problems with 47:

    #1 describes the situation accurately.

    #2 does not follow from #1, though it purports to. A prophet’s statement of a principle of behavior does not mean that principle is and has always been the will of God. There are many counterexamples, including, perhaps most obviously, the Word of Wisdom.

    #3 doesn’t from ##1-2. #1 tells us that a prophet advocated strict Sabbath observance. At most #2 tells us that strict Sabbath observance has always been the law of God. (I’m ignoring the logical connection between #1 & #2 because that is a logical mistake.) It doesn’t follow that the early Christians must have done what God willed them to do (#3). They may have done otherwise.

    #4 seems like a reasonable interpretation of Professor Harline’s work.

    #5(a) doesn’t follow from anything so far because there are other legitimate explanations for why he might not have found evidence for strict Sunday observance. It is quite possible that even if he researched every existing document (surely that would be adequate), he would still not find evidence of strict Sunday worship, even though strict Sunday worship might have been the norm.

    #5b this is the very possibility that would make Harline’s research adequate, though I don’t see how ##1-3 have anything to do with it.

    I fail to see why a book showing that the practices which we associate with the Sabbath were not the practices of Christians until the early 19th century shows that we ought not to continue our practices. As a result, I don’t see the problem.

    Whatever the merit’s of the logic at 47, I don’t see why a history of Sunday practices gets some of us up in arms to defend what we do. As Frank pointed out, there are scriptural injunctions that make current practices seem, at least at first glance, to be what is expected. As Professor Harline points out, there are other possible interpretations of the verses, but given the preponderance of prophetic interpretation, I think it would take some explaining to show that they mean something other than what we usually assume them to mean. However, perhaps Professor Harline’s book does offer the explanations needed, explanations that allow me to read the D&C’s injunctions more “liberally.”

    I look forward to reading Professor Harline’s book–and I will try to resist the temptation it evidently offers to turn Sunday into a day of pure hedonism.

  53. Frank McIntyre on May 8, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    Craig,

    Do the Asian cultures have now or had in the past any Sabbath-like institutions?

    David,

    Those are my statements, but for the life of me I can’t find point (2) or (3) in them.

    I am skeptical of the following:

    A. Using 0-400 AD as a proxy for the church Christ restored and the idea that we actually know squat about what the really early Christians were doing.

    B. Craig’s quickness to point out cultural explanations for our current practice, because I think he is right that we tend to be too quick to find reasons to ignore that which which we disagree. This holds for early christianity, the Bible, and President Kimball.

    Now, it may be that Craig has better documents for A than I know of, and so I was interested in learning more about that. As for B, we all understand this point. It is a no-brainer that we are tempted to dismiss that with which we disagree. Craig is much more knowledgeable and interested in talking about the history (where he is an expert) rather than the theology, which is fine.

  54. Craig Harline on May 8, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    I trust Jim was being ironic with his last sentence, as that is not what I intend the book to suggest, nor is it what I would hope. To me the choice isn’t between a strict Sabbath and a wild day of anything goes, as I’m sure Jim would know. It’s about possibly looking at Sunday differently, as a creative day. The original purpose of Sabbath in the biblical account was to rest from creation, to ponder creation. Many Sabbath commentators take this to be the most fundamental meaning of re-creation, precisely what our word recreation means. Thus if one takes the Sabbath commandment to hold on Sunday, perhaps whatever rejuvenates, recreates, restores, is what’s good on Sunday. And thus it’s a bit tricky to prescribe a list of do’s and don’t’s, as what may cause one to “re-create” life, to ponder big questions of life, and be refreshed for another week, may not be the same as for another. This, like so much else, may best be left to individual Christians, whom we might perhaps trust to sort this out for themselves. Too often such conclusions lead us to think that this will mean anything goes–when that’s not the case at all. Rather, the virtue may come in the very act of deciding well for oneself. This isn’t so much a theological statement as just a personal feeling which I’m willing to share here.

  55. Craig Harline on May 8, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    Regarding Asia, I’m not as familiar with Sabbath-like traditions here; what I’ve gathered is that, like ancient Romans and other civilizations of the Middle East, they preferred to celebrate annual holidays, many of which might occur during the year. The weekly holyday/holiday was largely the work of the Jews, and the Romans adapted it to their own 7-day week, although putting the emphasis on the first day–for pagans Sunday, for Christians the Lord’s Day. What I also learned was that ancient civilizations had weeks lasting from 5-16 days. The 7-day week was just one choice of many. Some scholars of the ancient world (and I am not expert in that period) believe that the Jewish 7-day week began only in 1000 BC; even more scholars believe it began after the Babylonian captivity in 587 B.C. With the temple lost, sacred time now came to replace sacred space. And the Babylonian predilection for 7 was adopted by the Jews in their reckoning of time. Anyway, that sums up a lot of what I read.

  56. DavidH on May 8, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    Frank,

    2 & 3 seemed implicit in these statements:

    “I assume you are talking about historical Christianity as practiced after the apostasy. But is a strictly observed Sabbath inherent in Restored Christianity? I think the D&C says so. You’ve told us why you love the Belgian approach. But suppose one starts from the thesis that what Mormons have as Sabbath day counsel is, in fact, what God wants us to have.”

    The second and third sentences suggest that at least D&C 59 is the inherent standard for “Restored Christianity.” Those sentences follow your statement that you assume Dr. Harline’s findings relate only to “historical Christianity as practiced after the apostasy.” That led me to wonder if your immediately following reference to “Restored Christianity” was meant to serve as evidence that today’s standards must have also been inherent for pre-apostasy Christianity.

    I gather, however, that is not what you meant. I appreciate the clarification.

  57. Frank McIntyre on May 8, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    “What I also learned was that ancient civilizations had weeks lasting from 5-16 days. ”

    Interesting. It would have been even weirder, though, if they all had picked 7.

  58. Frank McIntyre on May 8, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    David,

    You have misinterpreted me no worse than many of my students, as I just discovered after grading finals.

  59. Portia on May 8, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    RE: #3

    When I was about 4, my family had just moved to Utah. We had lived in Wyoming most of the time before.

    My parents took me trick-or-treating on Halloween, which happened to be a Sunday. Naturally, you would get strange looks if you went trick-or-treating on Oct. 30 anywhere else.

    We had some nice people who said, \”Oh, we\’re sorry, but a lot of people do it on Saturday here. Let me see what I can scrounge up.\” However, we also had a lot of quite rude people. So yes, Norbert, some people are mean enough to glare at a cute little four-year-old wanting candy on a Sunday. Makes me wonder what the non-Mormons from out of state think.

    On a semi-related note, can I just say that trunk-or-treat is very dumb? Man, in my day, we actually had to _walk_ some of those calories off!

  60. DavidH on May 8, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    “I don’t see why a history of Sunday practices gets some of us up in arms to defend what we do.”

    It does, though, interfere with the view that current US Sunday observance (or lack thereof) is more evidence that the world is continuing a long moral decline–i.e., that until recent times in the Christian world, Sunday observance was always (or almost always) much stricter than it is today. It also interferes with the notion that our friends of other religions who attend church in the morning and participate in recreation in the afternoons are intentionally violating what they must know is the only reasonable interpretation of the Sabbath/Sunday commandment.

  61. Jim F. on May 8, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    Craig (#54): Yes, you trusted right and read my the last sentence right, as irony.

    DavidH (#60): Exactly.

  62. Frank McIntyre on May 8, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    I have vague recollections growing up in Kansas of trick or treating on the 30th because of the Sabbath. If that is right, I cna guarantee that we were not the only ones doing it.

  63. Keith on May 8, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    JImF writes: “I look forward to reading Professor Harline’s book–and I will try to resist the temptation it evidently offers to turn Sunday into a day of pure hedonism.”
    Darn. I was hoping your example might give me an excuse for more hedonism in my life.

    This sounds like an interesting book. When we talk about D&C 59 in my classes, I point out that it says to 1) rest from labors and to 2) pay devotion — good general direction as to what is appropriate in those two things. And with necessary labor, do it simply and with an eye single to God’s glory. I then look at section 58 where it talks about not being commanded in all things. There Edward Partridge and others are told to move their family as they “counsel” between themselves and the Lord and to be anxiously engaged in this. I’m somewhat conservative when it comes to sabbath practices, but I have little fear for the person who counsels with the Lord with respect to his or her Sabbath activities and who seeks to be “anxiously engaged” in keeping the day holy.

  64. Russell Arben Fox on May 8, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    “I have vague recollections growing up in Kansas of trick or treating on the 30th because of the Sabbath. If that is right, I can guarantee that we were not the only ones doing it.”

    I haven’t been in Kansas long enough to vouch for this, but Sunday Halloweens in Arkansas, on the basis of the one we experienced there, were celebrated on Saturday by many Southern Baptists. I think that is not infrequently the case throughout the Bible Belt.

  65. Adam Greenwood on May 8, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    It does, though, interfere with the view that current US Sunday observance (or lack thereof) is more evidence that the world is continuing a long moral decline”

    The US is less sabbatarian than it used to be. I don’t see how you can reasonably deny this.

    It also interferes with the notion that our friends of other religions who attend church in the morning and participate in recreation in the afternoons are intentionally violating what they must know is the only reasonable interpretation of the Sabbath/Sunday commandment.

    I’ve never met anyone who actually believes this, Your ward must be interesting, populated almost entirely as it appears to be with the extended family of Brother and Sister Caricature.

  66. Adam Greenwood on May 8, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    We have a couple of close Catholic friends who have been very impressed with how seriously we took Sunday. These friends were American Catholics, so perhaps things are different in Belgium, but they believed that the general recreational approach to Sunday among their Catholic cofreres was more about hedonism and indifference to religious obligations than it was an alternative approach to proper Sunday worship.

  67. gst on May 8, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    Frank (#19):

    By the way, I am not saying that SWK was issuing blanket injunctions against swimming per se.

    Quite right. For instance, he would not condemn certain conservative strokes undertaken for a pure survival motive in the event that the ferry that transports you to church were to capsize, so long as you do not collaterally enjoy yourself.

  68. Ann on May 8, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    gst, you need to change your name back to “gst, award-winning commenter.”

  69. Wilfried on May 9, 2007 at 12:33 am

    Two quick remarks at 6:30 AM here in Belgium:

    1) Ealier in the discussion it was pointed out that the “recreation” part of Sunday, for people who go to Church in the morning, is felt as a continuation of the joy of the Lord’s day. That recreation part is not “pure hedonism”, but togetherness with the family, acting to make others also happy, socializing. That is a far cry from those who see Sunday without any religion and only for fun.

    2) For members in the (international) Church, often traveling long distances to get to and back from church (including picking up others at different locations), spending at least three hours in church, nearly always giving talks and teaching lessons, next to holding leadership meetings before or after, translating for those speaking other languages, all this is a sign of great devotion, but not exactly “resting from labors”. Ask those when they finally get home, especially in families with small children. Which does not mean the sacrifices are not willingly made.

  70. Norbert on May 9, 2007 at 1:35 am

    I also think it’s worth considering the level of religious diversity. Many European members live in countries where a massive majority of the population shares the same religious ethos, and that religious ethos is closely tied to cultural and even national identity; on the other hand, most American members live in a context of religious diversity: even if most people are Catholic or Jewish or Mormon in your community, there is less of a tie, if any at all, between the religious practice and a more broad cultural identity.

    If we are to live in the world but not be of the world, the world in which we live will alter how we apply Christ’s injunction. I believe it is possible to do that with an issue like Sunday worship and still remain consistent to the culture of the gospel.

  71. Rosalynde Welch on May 9, 2007 at 1:51 am

    Thanks for the post, Wilfried; and thanks Craig and commenters for an enjoyable discussion.

    Something about the way my parents instituted Sunday made it feel to me different in kind from other days: it wasn’t merely that we did other kinds of things, but the quality of the time actually felt other, outside. I’d like to give my children that same experience. I can’t say exactly what it was that my parents did, however, that had the desired effect. (Part of it was certainly that my father was almost always home from work on Sundays, but this, sadly, has not and will not be my kids’ experience. If only cancer observed a Sabbath!)

  72. Adam Greenwood on May 9, 2007 at 7:16 am

    “If we are to live in the world but not be of the world, the world in which we live will alter how we apply Christ’s injunction. I believe it is possible to do that with an issue like Sunday worship and still remain consistent to the culture of the gospel.”

    Wise.

  73. Russell Arben Fox on May 9, 2007 at 8:16 am

    I agree–that is a very wise point, Norbert. Of course, acknowledging the wisdom of that statement is just the first step; next comes the attempt to actually work out what “the culture of the gospel” should look like or should demand of us while we live in the context of, and are shaped by, a different culture. To hearken to Adam’s and my exchange about the church’s lack of crosses, some of our Mormon cultural practices are accidents of history and geography, as opposed to requirements of doctrine; you can’t and shouldn’t create a culture and way of life simply from doctrinal edicts alone, but neither can or should you ignore them as you try to work out a Mormon life in the midst of a historical and geographical environment that didn’t evolve with those edicts in mind. This means there’s always going to be some tension, though the specifics of that tension will always differ. I can imagine a fair number of ways in which an existing culture can provide important resources for a gospel culture that living in accordance with the doctrinal edicts of the Mormon church itself, with its still-abiding stamp of modern Americanness, cannot necessarily offer. (I’m thinking here of the way I’ve heard general authorities praise other countries and cultures where commerce on Sunday is formally discouraged, or intergenerational family togetherness and concern is taken as natural.) More often, however, I suspect that the existing culture will pose at least a few serious challenges to those who are trying to figure out how to turn their commitment to the doctrines of the church into a full-fledged gospel culture and way of life where they live. Building a gospel culture for one’s family and people, or partaking of an existing one, is simply always going to be easier in Utah or Southern Idaho than in Catholic Belgium; why else do so many Mormons seek to emigrate to the western U.S.?

    My preferred long term answer is the Catholic one, whether correlation likes it or not: the emergence, as the church grows throughout the world, of a genuine Belgium Mormonism, with its acknowledgement of the authority of the central church but its own particularity nonetheless. The long term answer I actually suspect, though, is that as the world–via technology and trade–Americanizes and the church piggy-backs on America’s culture, the issue will become moot.

  74. Russell Arben Fox on May 9, 2007 at 8:21 am

    Something about the way my parents instituted Sunday made it feel to me different in kind from other days….I can’t say exactly what it was that my parents did, however, that had the desired effect.

    Interesting how that is; I’ve had the same feeling. As I alluded up in #8, I’ve tried to nail down exactly what were the “little” decisions which in turn broadly conditioned our feeling of what was or should be acceptable on Sunday–but honestly, I could be barking up the wrong tree entirely in my analysis of what Melissa or I experienced while growing up. In all likelihood, it was more a matter of the spirit our parents tried to bring into the home, than any specific edict or act.

  75. Craig Harline on May 9, 2007 at 9:47 am

    Leave it to Wilfried, the true Belgian (I’m only an honorary one) to bring up the essential point of Sunday: joy. This was one last thing I wanted to raise. Joy was to be the prevailing mood of Sunday, from the beginning. Of course the word can mean a lot of things to different people, but in the ancient church joy was best achieved through fellowship during worship services and specifically in the Eucharistic meal. I get the sense that Sunday rituals such as the sacrament have come to imply a kind of ritualistic cleansing for the individual, but in the ancient church every document points to fellowship as the chief mood. Thus those who complain that church isn’t a social event…may actually be off. Another sense of joy came outside of church, and for centuries this was especially in recreational activites–gatherings, dancing, and so on. The Puritans redefined joy: it was now to be a sober reflection about salvation. My point is, joy is subject to many interpretations, but that the Puritan version is somehow taken as the default need not be so. For some it may be crucial; for others they may need another sort of day. Another thing that impressed me so strongly was the unbelievable variety of Sunday worship, even within cultures and churches, so again perhaps what’s needed is to trust fellow believers that they are doing their best and that they know best for themselves. Thanks for reminding me Wilfried!

  76. Wilfried on May 9, 2007 at 9:57 am

    Russell: My preferred long term answer is the Catholic one, whether correlation likes it or not: the emergence, as the church grows throughout the world, of a genuine Belgium Mormonism, with its acknowledgement of the authority of the central church but its own particularity nonetheless.

    It depends how one would define “particularity”. If it pertains to organizational aspects or even doctrinal re-interpretations, then such particularity would lead to fragmentation and even to schisms. But I would tend to agree that in terms of “viability”, considering the many people we lose to inactivity, some adaptations to certain perhaps non-vital requirements could be helpful in certain countries. Sunday observance could be a good example of such, especially if a slightly different observance actually serves gospel objectives, such as family togetherness, better relations with non-Mormon family members, and positive involvement with the surrounding society.

  77. Chris Grant on May 9, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Noteworthy is that to early Christians . . . [m]ost of Sunday was a normal working day.

    Why is this noteworthy? Were we to have supposed that their masters/employers would have given them Sunday off?

  78. Russell Arben Fox on May 9, 2007 at 10:09 am

    Wilfried,

    If it pertains to organizational aspects or even doctrinal re-interpretations, then such particularity would lead to fragmentation and even to schisms. But I would tend to agree that in terms of “viability,” considering the many people we lose to inactivity, some adaptations to certain perhaps non-vital requirements could be helpful in certain countries.

    I’m definitely not talking about rewriting doctrine; that’s the whole reason (well, almost the whole reason) why the issue of building a gospel culture and negotiating embedded practices is complicated: the doctrine is supposed to be the word of Christ to all, everywhere. As for organizational aspects, though, I’m less certain it would lead to the sort of fragmentation and schisms you fear. Again, I suppose it would depend on what is considered properly “organizational” within the church. The block meeting schedule, for example, is–I sincerely hope–not one of those non-negotiable aspects of Mormonism that must work everywhere.

  79. Wilfried on May 9, 2007 at 10:18 am

    Thank you, Craig! (76) Your contributions to the thread have been most helpful in clarifying basic matters.

    Yes, indeed, joy, and in a fully religious sense. When I return to my examples of Belgian Mormons in good standing, but who do things on Sunday which would not be so acceptable in Utah County, I believe it is not a matter of one kind of Sunday versus another. For them, their way of Sunday observance is simply religious and acceptable. However, this does not mean that all Belgian Mormons would feel the same way: we also have those who adhere to a strict Puritan-like Sunday and who would tend to condemn others for certain things they do.

    Another important aspect: for the people in my two examples, it is also a matter of living the Gospel in such a way that they can survive socially and spiritually within a non-Mormon environment that treats them like a cult. Doing socially “normal” family things on Sunday, also proves to them and to others that they are not cultish fundamentalists.

  80. Wilfried on May 9, 2007 at 10:25 am

    You are right, Russell (80). It depends on which aspects we consider organizational. I was thinking e.g. of the church structure, leadership, and callings. It’s obvious we need strict correlation here and respect for the lines of authority. But indeed, an aspect such as the block meeting schedule could be seen as something that could differ from country to country according to local circumstances.

  81. Craig Harline on May 9, 2007 at 10:34 am

    Chris: it’s noteworthy only in the sense that we are so accustomed to considering Sunday as a full day off that we might assume that it’s always been this way for Christians. That’s all it meant. If you knew better and were more familiar with Roman Christianity, then such a comment wasn’t meant for you obviously. It was meant for those (including me before I started researching the book) who probably didn’t know that.

  82. Adam Greenwood on May 9, 2007 at 10:39 am

    “Noteworthy is that to early Christians . . . [m]ost of Sunday was a normal working day.”

    So neither the holiday Sunday nor the Sabbath Sunday are in accord with early Church practices?

    Perhaps Chris Grant is right that doing anything other than working was simply impossible in antiquity. I also wonder, however, whether something like the concept of wholesome recreation even suggested. Would not common forms of recreation have been generally frowned on by the Church, whether on the Lord’s day or no? I generally think that a recreational Sunday is a bad idea, at least in this country, but I don’t know if the absence of recreation in the early Church tells us much, no more than does the early Christian attempt to be conspicuously non-Jewish.

  83. Russell Arben Fox on May 9, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Wilfried,

    I was thinking e.g. of the church structure, leadership, and callings.

    I think even there one can find–or at least I think one ought to be able to find–some grey areas. Seminary teachers, youth organizations, building maintenance, missionary work: all of those and more include numerous assumptions and practices, involving who makes what decisions for whom and when, that in some ways are reflective of real doctrinal principles, and in other ways are reflective of habits fallen into at a particular time and place.

    When I return to my examples of Belgian Mormons in good standing, but who do things on Sunday which would not be so acceptable in Utah County, I believe it is not a matter of one kind of Sunday versus another. For them, their way of Sunday observance is simply religious and acceptable. However, this does not mean that all Belgian Mormons would feel the same way: we also have those who adhere to a strict Puritan-like Sunday and who would tend to condemn others for certain things they do.

    Of course, this brings up one of the arguments commonly–and quite reasonably–used against those who want to articulate a perspective on Sunday worship, or anything else, that takes into consideration the complex interrelationship of embedded religious practices and personal needs: it results in people coming to different conclusions, which is a possible source of contention. Where the church is small, it’s easy–and, again, somewhat reasonable–to believe that a uniformity in belief and practice is essential to keeping the community together. I think that belief can be countered (and should be, because it leads to a simplistic, sometimes unnecessarily oppositional, and even misleading understanding of how people relate to and draw upon their surrounding culture in building their lives), but I think we’ve all seen instances of visiting general authorities or locally promoted church leaders who buy into it entirely.

  84. Adam Greenwood on May 9, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Err, “I also wonder, however, whether something like the concept of wholesome recreation even existed.”

  85. Rosalynde Welch on May 9, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Wilfried, I wonder if you’d say a bit more about Belgian Sundays. Are they different from Saturdays, and other days of the week? For example, are the pastries a uniquely and characteristically Sunday delicacy? Or do people buy and eat them all week long? Similarly, do families tend to reserve only Sundays for gatherings, or is the Sunday gathering you describe something that could have occurred any night of the week? (Incidentally, my recent visit to Utah Valley took me to family gatherings of precisely the sort you describe—minus perhaps the swimming—every Sunday I was there; I don’t think that’s necessarily an un-American-Mormonish activity. Indeed, the family “Sunday dinner” is a core Mormon (though not uniquely) institution, I’d say.)

    As I mentioned above, I think there’s value in cultivating a feeling of difference on Sundays.

  86. Craig Harline on May 9, 2007 at 11:34 am

    Regarding Sunday recreation: There was always a tension between the church and popular forms of entertainment. Yet the church also recognized that “honest recreation” was legitimate on Sunday. And you guessed it, the issue was always what “honest” meant. Now, if someone doesn’t respect the medieval church, and regards it as apostate, then perhaps one would find its condemnation of excessive recreation wrongheaded and that ordinary people were right, as they voted with their feet what they thought was desirable on Sunday. On the other hand, if one respects the medieval church and actually would agree with its position here, then one would see first of all that the tension is an old old story, and second of all that it still did allow recreation per se. Here again it was Puritans who completely condemned all forms of Sunday play, which is in my view where the uneasiness with Sunday games comes from, whether in one’s backyard, or in a public setting, such as professional sports. I cite in the book the example of Eric Liddel, who refused to run on Sunday for Britain in the 1924 Olympics: but this was a minority view for most Christians, and most Christian athletes. That doesn’t make the Puritan view right or wrong, I’m simply pointing out that most Christian athletes and spectators (and most spectators were Christian and still are) have come to another conclusion than the Puritan one.

  87. Adam Greenwood on May 9, 2007 at 11:48 am

    As I mentioned above, I think there’s value in cultivating a feeling of difference on Sundays.

    Agreed. I think the development of the secular Saturday in this country has made the Sabbath Sunday more viable.

  88. Frank McIntyre on May 9, 2007 at 11:49 am

    I think it was at graduation where a group competition was mentioned where the BYU team bowed out because the semifinals or whatever were on Sunday. The context was not to idolize that decision but rather to talk about the teams many other accomplishments, but the audience spontaneously responded with resounding applause.

  89. Adam Greenwood on May 9, 2007 at 11:55 am

    There was always a tension between the church and popular forms of entertainment. Yet the church also recognized that “honest recreation” was legitimate on Sunday.

    1) I assume you’re referring to the medieval church here. What about the classical church? Was there a category of “honest recreation” that was recognized at all, let alone for Sundays?

    2) Do we have any reason to infer any difference in the attitude towards Sunday work and Sunday play in classical Christianity?

  90. Adam Greenwood on May 9, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Frank M.,

    my mission president in Spain declined an invite to play for Real Madrid soon after his baptism.

    http://www.timesandseasons.org/index.php?p=1020

  91. Peter LLC on May 9, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    “I think the development of the secular Saturday in this country has made the Sabbath Sunday more viable.”

    More viable? How? For whom? Is Sunday worship a kind of dialectic?

  92. Craig Harline on May 9, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    The decision to play or not play on Sunday is in my view an individual one. Again, not playing tends to be seen as the default view. I’m not criticizing anyone’s decision not to play, but am suggesting that playing can also be seen in a religious light. I tell the story of the English triple-jumper Jonathan Edwards, who initially would not participate in Sunday events. He came to feel, however, that his missing the 1988 and 1992 Olympics was directly tied to his refusing to participate in important Sunday meets–thus he didn’t develop as he might. So he began to participate in Sunday events, feeling that his gift from God was being suppressed. He won a silver medal in the 1996 Olympics and set a world record in another meet. His feeling was that he was to use his gift, and that was more important than on what day it was displayed: he felt that God told him that he wasn’t merely to be an ornament, a sort of curiosity, but a full-fledged equal participant whose Christian values did not cause him to win, but whose winning allowed his Christian values even more scope. He explicitly criticized the film Chariots of Fire for suggesting that a truly religious person wouldn’t participate on Sunday. Most Christian athletes have taken this view, including Mormon athletes. I don’t think those who refuse to play are necessarily any more religious than those who do, but I have no problem if they want to make that choice.

  93. Wilfried on May 9, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    Rosalynde (86), to answer your question about Belgian Sundays, the best would be to read Craig Harline’s book! He gives excellent data and a good feeling of what these Sundays mean. The final pages of his book describe a remarkable Belgian Sunday afternoon and evening barbecue…

    To try briefly: Belgian Sundays are of course as varied as they can be in the U.S., depending on background, interests, family situation, financial abilities… But a general trend would be: very family oriented and with a joyful, festive feeling that makes the day very different from the rest of the week. Coming together as (extended) families is a basic pastime. Shops and business are closed (legal requirement, except for the bakeries and some other rare exceptions). There are strict regulations against Sunday noise (like lawnmowers). When the weather is nice, parks fill with families, walking, playing, feeding the ducks. For part of the population, sports are important and soccer competitions will attract their attention.

    Several times a year, the government makes sure castles and museums are free to enter on Sunday. There is also a well-known yearly free train-bus-tram-Sunday, to encourage people (again mostly families) to discover other Belgian cities or nice spots in the countryside. Distances are of course short in Belgium. Festivals, concerts, humanitarian projects will attract other portions of the population. And, oh yes, scouting is important on Sundays and has gained immensely in popularity: about 150,000 scouts do a lot of activities on Sundays (scouting is normally not done in the week).

    By contrast, a Belgian Saturday is basically a shopping day and a working-in-the-garden-day.

  94. Russell Arben Fox on May 9, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    “He explicitly criticized the film Chariots of Fire for suggesting that a truly religious person wouldn’t participate on Sunday. Most Christian athletes have taken this view, including Mormon athletes.”

    Does “this view” mean the Eric Liddel one, or the Jonathan Edwards one? I’m unsure of how to read your second sentence.

  95. Russell Arben Fox on May 9, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    “Shops and business are closed (legal requirement, except for the bakeries and some other rare exceptions). There are strict regulations against Sunday noise (like lawnmowers).”

    Man, why are all the good laws in Europe?

  96. Adam Greenwood on May 9, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    I don’t think those who refuse to play are necessarily any more religious than those who do, but I have no problem if they want to make that choice.

    I think we’re wandering back into those theological areas you wanted to avoid, but I have to respond to this. I’m glad your ostensibly tolerant–its better than actually condemning people as narrowminded or strict for not doing professional sports on Sunday–but your tolerance isn’t really inclusive. People like my mission president who gave up fame and fortune to keep the Sabbath didn’t do it because they thought that we all have our different paths and we should customize our Sunday in the way that we most enjoy.

  97. Craig Harline on May 9, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    95: sorry for the lack of clarity. “this view” means the Jonathan Edwards view; most American athletes are Christians, and most Mormon athletes implicitly take this view, some explicitly; some perhaps feel that it’s just a necessary evil, but Jonathan Edwards’ point is that it can be more than that.

    97: It is more of a personal conclusion than theological conclusion, but if you want to call it personal theology that’s fine too; and I came to the conclusion after doing my research and seeing how various people had approached it, including Mormon examples. I don’t understand what you mean by saying my tolerance isn’t inclusive–I wouldn’t characterize it first of all as tolerance. Tolerance suggests a begrudging attitude. I see it more as really trusting individuals to decide what’s best, in a religious sense, whether they play or not. As to whether it’s inclusive or not, your conclusion about your mission president sounds less inclusive to me: you suggest that he gave up his chance to play because he was responding to a universal truth, and following it, and that others should do the same. This seems a less inclusive view than what I was suggesting, which is that there have been alternative solutions among Christians.

  98. Deb on May 9, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    I think that keeping the Sabbath holy is a lot easier on a personal level. The tougher part comes in a more public venue, or even extended-family areas. Our children were raised quite strictly on Sabbath keeping, and it was a conflict to visit the grandparent’s home on Sundays. Grandpa has been a patriarch for 5 decades, Grandma a stake worker, both serve in the temple for many years. Good people—but, in our family, we never watch tv or do Easter egg hunts or have picnics or play volleyball on Sundays, and their pressure to “lighten up” was often intense. I think it was sometimes uncomfortable for the kids, who wore Sunday clothing (minus ties, let’s not get rediculous) and had different standards than the shorts-wearing, beach-seeking, mud-puddle-rolling cousins. Now that they are near adult, my kids have each said they appreciated our values, especially our missionary who already knew what Sundays were for and how to stay dressed up more than an hour! In a more public venue, our daughter and 2 other students in the ward will graduate from high school and also receive a 2 year college degree in 2 weeks, and the college commencment is on a Sunday. The other families are skipping graduation so as to keep the sabbath holy, while I see nothing wrong with attending, rejoicing, then having a simple extended-family dinner afterwards. With no volleyball, of course. The trouble is, as usual, not in what we choose, but in others’ expectations of us.

  99. Margaret Young on May 9, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    What a wonderful opportunity to engage an author!
    Right now, my husband and I spend much of our Sundays at the Missionary Training Center, where the schedule is very strict. I am not nearly as strict in our home, and have been known to express frustration when something like fasting was approached with a “do it or be damned” attitude rather than with joy and patience.

    The Guatemalan town where I lived in 1975 had Market Day every Sunday, so all active Church members went to church dutifully, and then directly to the market. So did we.

  100. Craig Harline on May 9, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    99: Margaret, thanks for your note. Your comment on fasting reminded me of something else. Fasting was never to occur on Sunday, because fasting implied soberness, and Sunday was to be a day of joy! In fact, when Christians began to denigrate the Jewish Sabbath, one way they did it was to fast on the Sabbath. I just thought that was an interesting tidbit from Christian history, given our fast Sundays!

  101. Margaret Young on May 9, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Fascinating, Craig! Of course, in the early LDS church, fasting was on Thursdays, not Sundays.

  102. Wilfried on May 9, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    The discussion has been great on this thread. Thanks to all of you. A special thanks to Craig Harline who has been most helpful with comments from his expertise.

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